Tuberville holding firm in fight against new DOD abortion policy

Tuberville holding firm in fight against new DOD abortion policy

Tuberville holding firm in fight against new DOD abortion policy

Tommy Tuberville coached college football for 21 years. He knows how to defend a reverse. So as the Department of Defense has tried to sidestep last summer's Supreme Court decision which handed control of abortion back to the states, Tuberville called a play of his own.

Now a Republican Senator from Alabama, Tuberville has finally gotten the attention of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York. Schumer has called out Tuberville in Senate proceedings and on social media as Tuberville and Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have placed "holds" on DOD nominations in response to the Pentagon's change in abortion policy.

The holds mean there’s a more difficult path to Senate approval for personnel nominated for new positions by the DOD.

The move is a response to new DOD policy that allows service members and dependents who are based in states that do not allow abortions to receive up to three weeks of administrative leave and costs associated with travel to states that will perform abortions. The committee is seeking a return to the previous policy.

"They've created problems within the DOD. They're woke, weak, and because of Roe v. Wade they're looking for every angle to bypass abortion, the new laws that have set in in terms of the states controlling," Tuberville told American Family Radio Thursday.

Donnelly, Elaine Donnelly

"Senator Tuberville is perfectly justified [in what he's doing because] the Pentagon is ignoring existing policy – the Hyde Amendment and other restrictions. And in doing so, they have created the problem; the senator hasn't created the problem, the Department of Defense has. I salute Senator Tuberville for doing the right thing. He has every right to do that. If he has to take that kind of a strategy to get the attention of the Pentagon, what other choice does he have?"

Elaine Donnelly, president
Center for Military Readiness

The DOD contends that abortion restrictions have a direct impact on the readiness of troops. The committee sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last July asking the DOD to justify this claim. The letter went unanswered.

Indeed, there was no formal contact from the DOD with the Senate Armed Services Committee until a December 7, 2022 briefing which occurred two days after Tuberville had placed a temporary hold on DOD nominations to force the DOD to interact with the committee.

It was a sign of things to come. On March 8, Tuberville placed a hold again, making it more difficult for DOD promotions to receive Senate confirmation.

How the hold works

The hold forces the Senate to consider and vote on nominations individually instead of approving them more swiftly by batches in unanimous consent. The nominations can still be approved, but Schumer must weigh their discussion time against precious Senate floor time to consider other business.

"GOP Senator Tuberville is blocking 180-plus military promotions and putting U.S. security in jeopardy because he objects to women in the military accessing reproductive care. He's telling women in the military they're not allowed to make their own health care decisions. This is wrong," Schumer tweeted this week.

Trying to pin a holding penalty on the former Ole Miss and Auburn coach, Schumer says blocking military choices is unprecedented, but it's not. Committee research revealed eight other instances going back to 1992.

Earlier this week Tuberville's hold had affected two civilian nominations, one of which in fact had a vote scheduled, and 158 generals and flag officers from DOD nominations. Currently there is one general for every 1,400 enlisted service members, an increase of 328% since World War II when the ratio was one to 6,000.

"I hate to put a hold on anybody. Right now, we're holding up 180, 190, whatever it is – it makes no difference. I'm going to stick with it and they're going to give me either a vote, or we're going to solve this problem and go back to the old rules, or we're not going to have generals who are going to get promotions." (Sen. Tommy Tuberville)

Power … it's all about power

Tuberville told AFR show host Jenna Ellis that Schumer had never addressed him before this week.

"My two years here I've never spoken a word to Chuck Schumer. He's supposed to be a leader, supposed to be able to control the Senate and talk to everybody, understand them and their priorities, where they stand, but finally he knows my name after 2½ years. That just goes to show you how this place runs," Tuberville said.

A third-party study cited by the committee projects as many as 4,100 taxpayer-subsidized abortions annually under the new policy. The old policy limited abortions to pregnancies involving rape, incest or those that threatened the life of the mother. Military abortions averaged fewer than 20 per year under the old policy.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, restrictions have been placed on abortion in many states, including some with large military installations like Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Tuberville has heard from constituents who are upset at costs their enlisted loved ones must incur while watching their tax dollars assist abortion.

"Just yesterday I got an email from a mom in Alabama who said her son is in the military. He has to buy his own uniforms at times, buy his own bed sheets, spending thousands of dollars out of his pocket. [She asked] 'Why are taxpayers having to pay for abortions when we can't even buy uniforms?' She's exactly right," he said.

Tuberville says he'd prefer not to stand in the way of anyone's promotion, but placing the hold is an easy call in the effort to have the DOD abide by state laws regarding abortion as the Supreme Court intended.

"Now because of [the high court's decision on] Roe v. Wade, they say, 'Hey, let's get around this rule a little bit, and because of Roe v. Wade, we can change it. We can make law here in the DOD,'" Tuberville said.

"This group [of pro-abortion Democrats] is all about power. They want the power in their hands. They don't want the governors of the states to have the power. They hate to relinquish anything. It's about power and being able to do things that they want to do. They're breaking the law, and we're going to try to change it."